Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Claire McCaskill and the Democratic National Convention (Update)

Following up on reports that the DNC chose Charlotte over St. Louis as the host city for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Why was St. Louis passed over? Party conventions usually have high economic stakes for bidding cities, for example the 2008 Democratic presidential convention generated $236 million of economic benefit to Denver, the host city.

Clearly St. Louis had many advantages. It has greater hotel space than Charlotte, a larger downtown, a Midwestern image, and importantly it enjoyed strong support from Labor, including Unite Here. Who vehemently opposed having the convention in a "right to work" state without a single unionized hotel, when the most viable alternative, St. Louis, has such high union density. So why did St. Louis lose out?

A curious discrepancy in the role of Missouri's Senior Senator, Claire McCaskill, might answer why St. Louis was passed over. According to the Post Dispatch, the senator was "bitterly" disappointed over the Charlotte pick, while calling St. Louis's bid an effort "we can all be proud of." Here's McCaskill at a press conference last week month:

The St. Louis proposal was very very strong, in terms of merit. The logistics are strong, the hotel support, the package that was put together by the St. Louis community I think was, in my opinion, the very best and that's what I have stressed to the White House...

Clearly in public McCaskill was supporting the St. Louis bid. Indeed she states she emphasized this to Democratic Party leaders. However a New York Times article yesterday reveals that McCaskill was not completely behind St. Louis's efforts, and privately lobbied against the bid. The article state's McCaskill "took her concerns," about the city's bid "directly to the White House." Claiming that the convention would "complicate her re-election campaign." According to the article McCaskill feared that a national convention in St. Louis would tie her too closely to President Obama and the national Democrats, forcing her to defend Obama's agenda rather than focusing on her own personality. And she appeared to be willing to privately undermine St. Louis's convention bid (and the millions of dollars in economic benefit that come with it) for her own electoral strategy.

Certainly McCaskill's opposition was not the only reason the city's bid was unsuccessful. There were many strong reasons behind Charlotte's pick: President Barack Obama sees Charlotte as a newer city, emblematic of a narrative that a "new" Democratic Party has emerged, and Charlotte is within the south, which might prove key to Obama's re-election campaign.

But why the Democrats felt, a city in a rabidly anti-union state and home to the nation's second largest banking center, best represents Democrats is not the issue here. Rather whether behind the scenes politicking from McCaskill might have damaged St. Louis. And why the senator dishonestly insisted she supported the bid publicly.

McCaskill addresses the issue on KMOX, Claiming its "just not true" that she privately lobbied against St. Louis.
-Signed Not Adam

1 comment:

  1. The Post-Dispatch had a pretty nice article on this: . City officials all agree that McCaskill worked hard for the convention. My guess is that either the reporter or the "unnamed top party official" (we all remember how well the NYT does with anonymous sources, right?) might have taken some of McCaskill's concerns out of context.